On 15th January, The Guardian online posted an article of this title. In it Sirin Kale questioned why it is considerably more expensive for women to get a haircut than it is for men. It is a question that does come up, and it is something that is being discussed within the industry. Gender neutral salons are appearing across the country, in a bid to not only support the LGBT movement. But also, to address the question of why a woman with short hair should pay more for a haircut than a man with long hair. You can find the article I’m referring to here. For now, I will attempt to better explain the pricing structure most salons use, and answer some of the questions raised in the article.
How do barbers make money?
Hairdressers and barbers are often compared, and it is often questioned why hairdressers charge so much more, when they are perceived to be doing the same thing. Let’s look at the numbers. On average a barber will charge £12 for a cut that will take between 15-30 minutes. If they fit 4 cuts into an hour, they will make £48 in an hour. Not far off the average price for a women’s hair cut of £50. Barbers also don’t have as many overheads to cover as salons do. They do not wash and shampoo every client. A lot of them don’t even wash the gowns, they simply shake and reuse throughout the day. They use tissues at the neck rather than towels. They also don’t offer tea or coffee which you’d expect as standard at a salon. All of these little details come with a cost. I’m not in any way questioning the skill set of barbers, as a hairdresser I think they are fantastic at what they do.
You just have a 'simple' haircut.
The argument that a one-length hair cut is ‘simple’ and ‘easy’, is completely null and void. Most hairdressers will argue that technically speaking, to achieve the perfect one-length haircut is actually one of the hardest things to do. It is entirely possible to mess it up. It is also entirely possible to mess it up and the client remain oblivious until another hairdresser gets their hands in there.
We offer the same service.
Quite simply, we do not. The service you receive at a barber shop differs greatly from that of a hair salon. Hair salons pride themselves on their guest experience. That is what you are paying a premium for. I appreciate that not everyone will want the whole experience. That is when finding a cheaper, less frills salon, or perhaps even one abroad is a great option.
Higher end barbers are offering more in the way of an experience, but naturally it comes with a cost. As I’ve stated in previous posts, you are paying for our time and knowledge. A more expensive hairdresser will have the experience and knowledge to offer you guidance on your hair. It may be in terms of being able to give you tips on how to style it yourself at home. They can also advise you on a change in your hair cut that may be more flattering or suitable for you.
Again, I appreciate these may not be things that everyone wants. But the time may come where you fancy a change. If you have not yet built up that relationship with a hairdresser, it can be hard to find somewhere to get this done. I firmly believe in building relationships with my clients. I want people to come to me not only for a haircut, but for the experience as a whole. Beauty is about creating something you can look at and be happy with, but sometimes we need some internal healing. Having a hairdresser you can trust with your secrets makes it a lot easier to discuss changes to your style.
Pricing based on gender.
I do agree women should be able to get their hair cut at a barber. I don’t honestly know anywhere that would refuse such a service, and to generalise that most would turn women away is highly unfair. If a barber offers the cut and service someone is looking for, then that’s fantastic, regardless of gender. Salons are beginning to offer cuts priced on length, not gender. I can see the appeal, but it can be a rather tricky situation. As much as we charge for our time, I personally would spend an hour on a ladies short cut and perhaps only 45 minutes on a man’s. The reason for this is that as a female who wear short hair, I know there are a few special details I like within my hair cut.
The other side of this is that if I’m cutting a man’s hair that is shoulder length, 9 times out of 10, I will not be drying it as this is something they simply don’t want. So, you could argue it unfair that they pay the higher long hair price when they do not require the level of drying and styling that a female might.
The argument could go on.
Forever. It is one that often ends up going in circles. It is very hard not to offend anyone. I believe a hairdresser should be charging based on their reputation, experience and demand. They should be charging an hourly rate, with these things factored in.
In conclusion, we offer an experience as a whole. This is why I charge what I do. I firmly believe in you spending an hour feeling like the most important person in the world, and drinking as much tea or coffee as your bladder can handle.
For this reason, I would like to invite Sirin Kale to come and see what this experience is about. On me. I started this blog to try to change people’s perception of hairdressers and help people love their hair. If I can change one person’s mind, I will be satisfied.
The Hair Bones